Thursday, October 26, 2006

Does Bush really think he can get away with anything?

Reader reddog asks if Bush actually thinks he can do "anything he wants." This is a very good question, one which many have asked themselves, including Yours Truly in several posts in this blog. Considering that Bush himself has been quoted as saying, "The Constitution is just a goddamned piece of paper," I can only conclude that, short of a Constitutional convention or a Congress taking its job seriously, who or what is left to say what are the limits of Bush's power? Answer so far: only Bush the Decider.

And, frightening as it may be to contemplate, Bush himself says he listens to God, just like your soft-in-the-head Uncle Marley, the one who lives in the attic. The last time we Americans had to contend with a "George the Decider" who talked to God it was George III, who was driven insane by the syphilis rotting his brain. Now, George III was an actual legitimate monarch, as these things were accounted in the 18th Century, while our Decider has become an all-powerful monarch by an applied program of Republican corruption, congressional abdication, and one hell of a PR machine, bought and paid for by the industrial-petroleum-armaments combines. And I don't mean "might be," or "could-be," but is - by virtue of the suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus under the recently passed Military Commissions Act of 2006 (S-3930).

Colonel Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, has called the group surrounding Bush a "cabal." defines 'cabal' as a "A conspiratorial group of plotters or intriguers." So what is Larry talking about? We know that presidential advisory groups routinely meet behind closed doors, so the colonel probably isn't referring to normal executive closed-door meetings, but to that select group of advisors - plotters, frankly - who meet to further dark designs; in this case, the accumulation of supreme power, driving towards executive absolutism; towards a monarchy or 'tyranny', as the Greeks called the style of government of their elected dictators. Note well that the Greeks elected their tyrants, just as the Italians elected Mussolini and the Germans Hitler.

George Bush has openly stated to the American people - you and me - that he is entitled to "interpret" any law that Congress passes in the light of his understanding of the principle of the "unitary executive." Now, just what the hell does that mean, and how come nobody ever heard of such a thing until Bush came along?

Well, a bright but twisted lad from Harvard Law (John Yoo) - extrapolating wildly from Alexander Hamilton's theory of the separation of powers in the Federalist Papers - arrived at the dubious proposition that the president was obliged to refuse to carry out any law that Congress passed that the president - on his own authority - considered encroached on his constitutional duties or powers; he dubbed this theory the "unitary executive." Maybe so, if it were merely that, but this president has signed bills into law, thereby enacting them, with the proviso ("signing statements") that he can ignore the parts he doesn't like, for arbitrary reasons.

This is not what the Framers of the Constitution had in mind, and no reading of the Constitution - as written - can support this argument. In fact, dozens of serious constitutional experts have condemned this reading of the Constitution. Regardless, Bush has given himself a line-item veto power over the law, which the Supreme Court has already ruled unconstitutional on its face well before this president arrived on the scene.

The Bush cabal's camouflage for his accumulation of absolute power has been the repeated mantra that he is "commander-in-chief in a time of war" and that gives him "extra powers." Well, Gentle Readers, only Congress - the only directly elected representative of the citizenry - can declare war, which it has not done since WWII, so any claim of "extra powers" is extra-constitutional and illegal, and the 5th Circuit has said so, recently, and in no uncertain terms.

Further, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is itself illegal and unconstitutional on its face, because we are not at war, and Habeas Corpus can be constitutionally suspended only during "invasion or resurrection." In fact, strictly speaking, it cannot be suspended even during a declared war.

The cabal's argument that Lincoln suspended Habeas during the Civil War is disingenuous, because they ignore the fact that the southern states had resurrected against the Federal government, and thus the suspension of Habeas was indeed constitutional and legal. The Alien and Sedition Act (1798), authored by Hamilton and the precursor to the USA Patriot Act, was called a "grave error" by John Q. Adams, and he apologized to the American people for it after he left office. It was struck down by the Supreme Court under the following Jefferson administration.

Every reputable legal expert agrees that Habeas Corpus is the core right of all civil liberties in a free society. In the US Constitution, it is not frivolously tacked on as an Amendment; it is guaranteed up front and in plain English in the main body of that document in Article I, Section IX:

Clause 2: The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Over 800 years ago, the English people rose up against their king and forced him at the point of a sword to guarantee Habeas Corpus, and this president, this wanna-be king, has taken it away from us with the willing co-operation of a corrupt Congress, and nary a whisper from the so-called "liberal media," with the notable exceptions of Keith Olberman and Jack Cafferty.

The sad part is that a good half of the American public has applauded this shredding of their civil liberties - their rights - that hundreds of thousands of American soldiers gave their lives to ensure would not be taken by a dictator or surrendered up by a supine Congress, Republican or Democrat.

To sum up: by his every action - by his "signing statements" and the real acts of illegal domestic warrantless wiretapping; illegal incarceration; denial of hearings and bail; kidnapping and transportation of foreign nationals; assassinations; the prosecution of an undeclared Neverending War on Terror; the unilateral breaking of international treaties ratified by Congress assembled and shit we have yet to uncover - this president has demonstrated to a near disbelieving world that, yes, indeed, he does think he can "get away" with anything, because he does, and we let him.

Update: Broken links fixed, thank you, Mr Anonymous.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tough sledding

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

"BritainThis president, with an army to enforce her his tyranny, has declared that she he has the right (not only to tax, but) "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER," and if being bound in that manner is not slavery, then there not such a thing as slavery on the earth. Even the expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can only belong to God." - Thomas Paine, The Crisis Papers

With the self-immolation of the Republican Party, many liberal pundits are whooping and hollering for joy. Personally, I don't think Middle American is buying into the celebration, because they know that the scorched-earth social policies of the Repugs will take decades to repair, even if this president doesn't throw us all into a dark pit somewhere.

Especially troubling are the economic policies - out-sourcing, tax cuts, environmental sellout, etc. - that have left behind massive debt, a shrunken middle class, and a job-poor environment, all dumped on the Democrats to clean up - as they will - but at some cost, probably involving new, higher taxes. (You can already hear the "fiscal conservatives" screaming about that). And that's only assuming that they can get anything remotely resembling real fiscal reform past this president.

And while we're on the subject of jobs out-sourcing, let's not forget that the Democrats gave us that big "swooshing sound of jobs being sucked south," in the form of NAFTA.

The core issue of civil rights - habeas corpus - followed closely by privacy issues, will take a major fight to reaffirm, and that's going to be an uphill battle, unless and until it makes it to the Supreme Court, and quickly. Judge Stephens may step down - he's the oldest - and that would give the Senate a place to make a real stand, with a real, moderate jurist, and again only if they can muster the courage to fight the President to a standstill.

But even among the Dems themselves, issues divide the party, as evidenced by their voting history on some very critical issues:

· Vote to confirm John Roberts to the Supreme Court: Republicans (56-0) -- Democrats (22 -22)
· Cloture vote on Sam Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court: Republicans (54-0) -- Democrats (19-25)
· Vote on Authorization to use military force in Iraq: Republicans (48-1) -- Democrats - (29-21)
· Cloture vote on Bankruptcy Bill: Republicans (55-0) -- Democrats (14-30)
· Cloture vote on nomination of Priscilla Owens to appeals court: Republicans (55-0) -- Democrats (25-18)
· Torture/detention bill: Republicans (53-1) -- Democrats (12-33).

Remember those 'signing statements'? Bush is still guided by Gonzales' and John Yoo's truly bizarre reading of the Constitution. This is an especially troubling problem, requiring a truly concerted effort by Congress to take back their prerogatives, hell, the responsibilities mandated to them by the Constitution; no small feat, given their past performance and inclinations.

Speaking of which, when was the last time you heard Senator Hillary Clinton say Word One about Congressional responsibility in handing over duties and responsibility to the executive when it comes to the so-called "unitary executive"? Or a peep out of that new kid on the block, Barack Obama?

Whatever the outcome in November, it's gonna be tough sledding for a good while

Update: Link added to 'signing statements'